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HLSC122 Evidence For Practice 3

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Scenario: Stress in university students

Chooseya is a first-year international student studying at university in Australia. She recently received her first semester results, which were not good, with a fail in one unit. Chooseya feels that she too stressed and not capable of  completing her three-year degree program. A friend of Chooseya’s - Joanne - encourages her to pick herself up emotionally and to continue to peruse her studies. Joanne feels that failing a unit in your first semester of university can be due to many factors. Joanne decides to search for literature on how stress affects academic grades in university students, in an effort to support her friend.

Clinical question

Does stress affect academic performance in university students?




University students are the population group that is also affected by stress. Some of the issuesfound in students suffering from high academic stress are depression, anxiety and behavioral problems (Reddy, Menon & Thattil, 2018). There is lack of awareness among students regarding how stress influence academic performance. This report will conduct a critical appraisal on the study by Frazier et al. (2018) which investigate about the effect of stress on academic performance among college students.  The critical appraisal will comment on the authorship, research question, research design and results of the study and evaluate strength and weakness of each section. As the paper aims to answer the scenario question about how stress affects academic performance in university students, the findings of the paper will be evaluated in the context of application to the case scenario 2.

PART A – Critical appraisal


The review of authorship detail in any research article is important to get idea about affiliation and expertise of authors on a particular research topic. Authorship details give idea about the confidentiality of any work and show the reputation of the person in a particular field of research (Sarna?Wojcicki et al., 2017). For the article being appraised (Frazier et al., 2018), it had four authors. Two of the authors were from the Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota, USA and other two authors were affiliate of Boyton Health Service, University of Minnesota, USA. From authorship details, it can be said that the credentials and affiliations of the authors is a strength of the study as their clinical expertise in psychological is likely to give innovate idea on how stress affects mind and academic performance.

Research question & Justification

The research question of the article was focused on examining the factors affecting academic performance with a specific focus on rest. The justification for the research was given by the discussion on the importance of academic performance in college and gaps in past knowledge related to the impact of stress on student’s performance. For example, the significance of better academic performance was given by evidence on the benefits of higher academic performance on better job opportunities and salaries (Simón, Díaz & Costa, 2017). The authors discussed about studies where opinions were collected from students regarding the factors that affect their academic performance. Majority of students reported stress as a factor affecting academic performance. However, one gap in research discussed by the author was that there was lack of studies which investigated about the relation between stress and low GPA.  Thus, rationale for research is well-structured and aligned to the research question.


Research design  

The research was done using quantitative research design and this is evidenced from the review of the present study section. To fulfill the research objective, the study had the aim of identifying factors that differentiated among students experiencing stress with those who had no stress. Other aim of the study was to examine relation between psychosocial and demographic factors and GPA and find out how these factors is identified as an impediment to GPA scores. Considering the research objective, the use of quantitative research design is appropriate. Quantitative research design using experimental or descriptive approach is successful in establishing association between variables and determining causality too (Price & Lovell, 2018). Thus, the use of quantitative research design for this study is appropriate. The second strength of qualitative design is that it aimed at identifying how many people act or behave in a specific way (Bloomfield & Fisher, 2019). Hence, it is mainly concerned with the use of quantitative data on a research phenomenon and use of this research design is appropriate when large sample size is used.  Frazier et al. (2018) aimed to generate both qualitative and quantitative data on the topic. Still the use of this research design is appropriate as the factors perceived to affect performance was also evaluated by scoring on list of 20 items which included stress too.

Research methods

The research was done with 8, 997 undergraduate students studying in University campuses in Minnesota. The data from participants were collected online. The average age of the sample was 21 years and students in the 4 year college were the majority participants in the study. The limitation of the recruitment process is that no clear detail has been given regarding the recruitment strategy and how students were approached. These factors may affect the credibility of the findings (Schmidt, 2017). The strength of the sample selection is that it had diverse group of participants consisting of different cultural groups. The researchers collected data on factors perceived to affect performance, stress, coping self-efficacy, resilience, social support and academic performance. The significance of the data collection method is that each of these items was rated based on a numerical scale which would give better estimation of effects of stress on students. Numerical data allows analysis of information using the power of statistics (Uher, 2018).

Results and Limitations

From the analysis of information related to the relation between stress and academic performance, it was found most students endorsed stress as a factor influencing academic performance compared to sleep difficulties and mental health issues. The strength of the finding is that it compared student’s perception on the consequences of stress on academic performance to the GPAs obtained. This type of evaluation has been done by no other researchers.  Students who believed that stress affected their performance had lower GP and vice versa.  The study was successful in giving answer to the research question by stating that stress is a factor that has impact on other coping variables such as self-efficacy, resilience and social support.  This is a crucial finding as it shows the relation between stress and self-efficacy and coping abilities (Brown, 2019). The limitation discussed by the authors includes use of one item measures to evaluate stress and self-efficacy. It gives the implication to use multiple item measures in future research.

PART B – Enablers and Barriers

The above study findings should be evaluated in terms of its utility in application to the scenario of Chooseya, who failed in one unit and feeling too stressed to complete her three year degree. Her friend, Joanne wanted to support Chooseya by finding out how stress affects grades and why Choosey should cope with her stress to continue her studies. The study by Frazier et al. (2018) was successful in resolving query of the student and it mainly revealed that students show say that stress affects their academic performance can actually have lower GPAs. Hence, this findings can become an enabler for Joanne to explain to Chooseya why having positive perception related to stress is important. The study reported that the students who express stress to negatively affect their performance are more likely to suffer from negative coping style, less resilience and less support. Hence, this evidence can become an enabler for Joanne to encourage her friend to change her behavior and improve her emotions to better cope with academic pressures. Nagle and Sharma (2018) emphasize too that to save vulnerable students from negative impact of stress, it is necessary to direct them towards creative activities to enhance their interest in achieving academic goals. Similarly, the article recommended building resilience of such students to improve their academic performance. In the context of the case scenario, the barriers to the adaptation of this recommendation may include lack of time and lack of knowledge on appropriate services to enhance resilience.  These barriers often lead to feelings of ambivalence among health care staffs. The study  by Bamber and Schneider (2020) reports about similar experience of barriers to meditation such as ambivalence, lack of time to meditate and fear of meditation.  Ambivalence is an internal struggle that can affect student’s ability to get the benefits of mindfulness intervention. Hence, mindfulness intervention should be designed in a way that it is feasible for students to easily adapt this intervention.   


From the critical evaluation of the cross-sectional study by Frazier et al. (2018), it can be said that the study is an innovative paper that explores relation between stress, academic performance and GPAs. The strength of the study is the use of numerical scales to measures stress related outcomes and the use of large sample size which can enhance the generalizability of the finding. The weakness of the study is the lack of details on recruitment and use of one-item measure for self-efficacy measurement. The recommendation proposed by the research is also effective as it can change perspective of students regarding stress and ways to deal with it.



Bamber, M. D., & Schneider, J. K. (2020). College students’ perceptions of mindfulness-based interventions: A narrative review of the qualitative research. Current Psychology, 1-14.

Bloomfield, J., & Fisher, M. J. (2019). Quantitative research design. Journal of the Australasian Rehabilitation Nurses Association, 22(2), 27.;dn=738299924514584;res=IELIAC

Brown, M. J. (2019). Relationship Between Stress Management Self-Efficacy, Stress Mindset, and Vocational Student Success.

Frazier, P., Gabriel, A., Merians, A., & Lust, K. (2019). Understanding stress as an impediment to academic performance. Journal of American College Health, 67(6), 562-570.

Nagle, Y. K., & Sharma, U. (2018). Academic stress and coping mechanism among students: An Indian perspective. Journal of Child Adolescence Psychology, 2(1), 6-8.

Price, O., & Lovell, K. (2018). Quantitative research design. In A research handbook for patient and public involvement researchers. Manchester University Press.

Reddy, K. J., Menon, K. R., & Thattil, A. (2018). Academic stress and its sources among University students. Biomedical and Pharmacology Journal, 11(1), 531-537. DOI :

Sarna?Wojcicki, D., Perret, M., Eitzel, M. V., & Fortmann, L. (2017). Where are the missing coauthors? Authorship practices in participatory research. Rural Sociology, 82(4), 713-746.

Schmidt, F. L. (2017). Beyond questionable research methods: The role of omitted relevant research in the credibility of research. Archives of Scientific Psychology, 5(1), 32.  

Simón, H., Díaz, J. M. C., & Costa, J. L. C. (2017). Analysis of university student employment and its impact on academic performance. Electronic Journal of Research in Educational Psychology, 15(2), 281-306.

Uher, J. (2018). Quantitative data from rating scales: an epistemological and methodological enquiry. Frontiers in psychology, 9, 2599.

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